Derbyshire man who received life-changing kidney transplant urges families to talk about organ donation this Christmas

A Derbyshire man who went on to help others after a transplant is urging families to talk about organ donation and register their decision this Christmas.

Monday, 20th December 2021, 11:27 am
Updated Monday, 20th December 2021, 11:30 am
Simon Elmore had a kidney transplant in 2015 and remains an ambassador for organ donation to this day
Simon Elmore had a kidney transplant in 2015 and remains an ambassador for organ donation to this day

Simon Elmore, 46, from Belper received a life-changing kidney transplant at Nottingham City Hospital in 2015.

Before then, he had been undergoing weekly dialysis treatment for seven years and at one point was given just 30 minutes to live.

As Christmas approaches, Simon is now sharing his story to raise awareness as he backs calls by NHS Blood and Transplant for people to take a moment during the festive celebrations to talk about their organ donation decision and to leave their family members certain of what they want to happen.

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Simon pictured left, during his dialysis treatment and depression, and right, in hospital

Currently there are 96 patients waiting for an organ transplant in Derbyshire and many of their lives could be saved or significantly improved if a donor is found - yet every day across the UK someone dies in need of a transplant.

Simon said: "[Organ donation] is the biggest gift you could ever give anybody.

"That person that you may never even meet will be forever grateful. It literally will give them hope for the future and give them an opportunity to see their children and grandchildren grow up.”

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Simon pictured with Carol Laight, his donor John's widow

Simon was 33 when, in 2008, he suffered kidney failure due to high blood pressure.

He spiralled into a deep depression and began drinking, later seeing his health worsen to the point he had a stroke.

In late 2014, Simon came across Transplant Sport and began his fitness journey, determined to have a kidney transplant within the next two months,

His wish then came true when a suitable donor was found in January 2015.

Afterwards he had just two thoughts – one, that he was going to compete in the World Transplant Games in Argentina and two, that he was going to make his donor proud.

Simon fulfilled his ambition just months after his transplant, bringing home three gold medals in the World Transplant Games 2015.

Two years later, he presented one of the medals to Carol Laight, his donor John’s widow, and her daughter Vicky.

“My kidney transplant changed my life,” said Simon, who dedicates much of his time to championing organ donation services.

"I now compete for Transplant Sport and compete for Great Britain; I’m the kids coordinator for Transplant Sport Kids and Teens; I play cricket, basketball, football, tennis, tenpin bowling.

He added: “Life really is so precious; I know how fortunate I am and will carry on pushing to achieve more because I can. Many people will never have the opportunity. Sadly, too many have never had the chance.”

Even though the law around organ donation has now moved to an opt out system across England, Wales, and Scotland, many people are not aware that families will still always be consulted before organ donation goes ahead.

While families are more likely, and find it easier, to support donation when they already know it is what their loved one wanted, only 42 per cent of the UK population have registered their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register and just 37 per cent say that they have shared their organ donation decision with their family.

For more information, or to register your decision, visit: www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.

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